Nutrition: Wakey wakey, rise and shine

Learn the habits to getting your day off to a good start and you may even become a morning person...
Jane McClenaghan

HOW are you this morning? Do you waken up feeling refreshed, revived and raring to go, or do your mornings start with the snooze button on repeat?

The habits we create for our morning routine will shape the rest of the day. Day after day, week after week, these morning habits can make our break our health.

It can feel more than a little bit daunting to change the habits of a lifetime, but creating a new morning ritual could make all the difference to your health, wellbeing and even your waistline.

Here are my ideas to help get your day off to a good start. I am not suggesting you should change everything at once, but adopting a few of these healthy habits will transform your mornings. You never know, it could even make you a 'morning person'...

1. Prepare for your wake-up the night before. That can mean setting the table and prepping your breakfast, or simply getting your clothes ready for the next day. These simple rituals and routines will help your mornings get off to a better start.

2. Wake to a different alarm call. A daylight alarm clock can be a game changer for a better wake-up. Wakening to a light trigger, rather than a sound trigger gently eases you into the day, by gradually and naturally suppressing melatonin production for a more natural wake up that mimics daylight. So much better than kickstarting your adrenal glands with a deafening bleeper.

3. Take a stretch. Even just a couple of minutes of movement and simple stretches can help to release muscle tension and get your body ready for the day. Do what feels right for your body. This is a stretch, not a workout.

4. Get energised. Use the time you spend in the shower to engage in a moment of mindfulness. It is well known that mindfulness techniques can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve mood and help energy levels. Tune into your senses and notice the smell of your shower gel, the feel of the frothiness of your shampoo and the sound of the running water. Just don't stay in there too long, or you'll miss the bus to work.

5. Get hydrated. Drink a glass of water as you wait for the kettle to boil. We can be a little bit dehydrated first thing, so drink up and notice a change to your energy levels.

6. Step outside. Get outside and notice nature. The mornings are already starting to get brighter and the more exposure we can get to morning daylight, the better we sleep that same night. Morning daylight helps to regulate and re-set our sleep-wake cycle.

7. Think protein first. Forget cereals and toast if you want to feel energised all morning, and switch to a higher protein breakfast. This will keep you fuller for longer, stop cravings for carbs and help your brain to focus better. Some ideas for breakfast include:

  • Overnight oats with extra nuts and seeds. Use jumbo oats as they are slower release energy than quick-cook oats. Add some berries or grate apple, a dash of ginger or cinnamon and soak overnight in your milk of choice. Make this up the night before to save time in the morning. Why not make two at once, to do two mornings, and save even more time?
  • Protein porridge. Simply add a couple of heaped dessertspoonfuls of chia or flaxseed when you are making your porridge up (you'll need a smaller portion of oats) and top with some chopped nuts to serve.
  • Natural or Greek yoghurt with nuts, seeds, berries and a little low-sugar granola.
  • A quick omelette with spinach and grated cheese.
  • Eggs make a great breakfast. Have a couple boiled, poached or scrambled with rye bread, tomatoes and mushrooms if you have more time.
  • Don't forget your morning coffee. Good quality coffee is a lovely source of antioxidants and polyphenols. Just limit to 1-2 cups a day and enjoy every sip. If you are not so keen on coffee, you'll get the same benefits from green tea.